Sun Chlorella has been growing by leaps and bounds in the US nutritional supplement market, not to mention that the country has been known for its advanced medical care and health food. For a long time, different supplements were manufactured according to different health symptoms – which is why the spotlight is now on Chlorella, which is an all-natural whole food. The following is an interview between Jennifer Jimenez, the Vice President of Sun Chlorella USA, and Futoshi Nakayama, the President and CEO of Sun Chlorella Corporation, to share with us some of the latest trends in the US.
What is the main difference between the US and Japanese nutritional supplement markets?
Jennifer Jimenez: That would certainly be the fact that there are third-party certification demands in the US. The US market expects that its supplements be third-party certified, such as USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified, or Gluten Free. This is also the case in the food supply chain, so naturally, the same demand applies to supplements as well. If a nutritional supplement does not have any certifications, it cannot likely last. For the US market, third-party certifications create trust between the brand and consumers. Since many products in the US are imported, the certifications absolve any concerns the consumer may have concerning safety and quality.
When and how did you launch Sun Chlorella ‘A’ Powder in the US?
Jimenez: We have been planning to officially launch the powder type at Natural Products Expo West, which is typically conducted in Southern California every March. For one thing, our company has been exhibiting in this event every year. It is also one of the largest natural products expos in the country, attracting nearly 90,000 retail professionals in the industry. Many of our customers and vendors frequent this show, so we felt that this was the ultimate time and place to make the official launch.
How was the new product received at the expo?
Jimenez: The feedback at the show was favorable. Many of our existing customers, including brick and mortar stores as well as e-tailers made their initial purchase there. Within several months our long-time customer, The Vitamin Shoppe, which has almost 800 retail stores throughout the US, wanted to bring it in. It is now available on their shelves nationwide and selling well.
Why was Sun Chlorella accepted smoothly among US consumers? What is your analysis?
Jimenez: Our younger customers prefer the powder type for its convenience, so that they can mix it in their smoothies, protein shakes, orange juice, or other beverages of their choice. I think this was a big factor. The powder type has also achieved some of the main product certifications, and that also greatly contributed to its promotion. As mentioned earlier, there are strict certification guidelines for natural supplements in the US to achieve the marks of Non-GMO Project Verified and Gluten Free. Sun Chlorella ‘A’ Powder has both, which gives the brand a positive image.
The company’s entry into the US sports industry is a huge deal.
Jimenez: Definitely. One of the main features of our new product is that it is NSF Certified for Sport®. Achieving this product certification was critical, as it enabled us to introduce Sun Chlorella ‘A’ Powder to a completely new target audience. Since the latter half of 2017, we began participating in professional sporting events to approach coaches in charge of muscle and cardio workouts for professional sport teams, which led us to participate in MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL events the following year. We were able to connect with key staff members of professional sport teams and directly introduce our powder type.
What did you discover as you communicated with the staff members?
Jimenez: We found out that an average American professional athlete did not have the time or interest to be in charge of their own nutritional intake. Most of them preferred to indulge in fast food and sodas instead. On the other hand, staff members were trying to inspire these athletes to improve their diet, even just a little bit. Which is why we suggested that athletes can efficiently take the nutrients they are lacking through Chlorella. Although there are not many nutritious supplements that professional athletes are allowed to take, our company’s Chlorella is the first to bear the mark of NSF Certified for Sport®.
What did the staff members think of our new product?
Jimenez: We received very good feedback, and we are highly appreciative of them. Many of the team staffs said the same thing, that they are highly expectant of good results by including Chlorella in their team players’ diet. Hopes are high especially for the high chlorophyll content (one serving equivalent to 2½ cups of raw spinach) and the effects of Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF). Besides the high level of nutrients, they were all impressed by the physical condition of athletes who drank Chlorella. The coaches are realizing that those taking Chlorella are more energetic and recovering faster from practices and games. Sun Chlorella ‘A’ Powder is conveniently packaged for travelling and they love that the team is never without it.
Are the team players satisfied with the product?
Jimenez: The ones who are generally not interested in health and nutritious supplements are initially slightly hesitant of its color and taste. However, after they are lectured by their coaches, they are all for it once they understand the benefits that they can receive from taking Chlorella. Any nutritional edge to enhance their performance is a welcome addition.
How are the team players taking Chlorella and how much is their daily intake?
Jimenez: We have heard that they are mixing Chlorella into their smoothies or their favorite beverage. It is not that easy for the team players to suddenly change their diet to eat more vegetables and not as much processed food. Many of them are actually not that happy when they are served healthy meals even if it’s for their own good. Adding Chlorella to their diet enables the players to easily take chlorophyll, nucleic acids, phytochemical, and varieties of other vitamins and minerals. As of today, we have received repeat orders from 2 MLB teams and 3 NHL teams.
Jennifer Jimenez joined the company in August 2, 1999 as a receptionist, and was later transferred to the call center, where she followed up with customers. Jimenez was then transferred to the newly established brand communications division, where she was in charge of sending direct mails to existing customers as well as acquiring new customers. She is a unique member in the company who has gained actual experience in various marketing positions at Sun Chlorella U.S.A. Recognized for her service to the company, Jimenez assumed the position of Vice President in May 2016.